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No joke: Joe Pesci received 'serious burns' from Kevin's flaming head prank in 'Home Alone 2'
Who would have thought that a member of the Wet Bandits would be averse to fire?
Kevin McCallister's pranks on the bumbling Wet Bandits in the first two Home Alone movies are legendary, but it's important to remember that Joe Pesci (Harry) and Daniel Stern (Marv) were just actors — not dangerous criminals. All the abuse inflicted upon them by the resourceful young Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) was supposed to be make-believe. Nevertheless, film sets can often be dangerous places where risky stunts, particularly those involving fire, break free of the protective barrier of Hollywood safety standards.
Speaking with People for the 30th anniversary of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Pesci revealed that he sustained "serious burns" during the iconic sequence in which Harry, hoping to put out a fire on his noggin, sticks his head into a toilet bowl filled with flammable liquid. "It was a nice change of pace to do that particular type of slapstick comedy," he explained. "But the Home Alone movies were a more physical type of comedy, therefore, a little more demanding."
While he remembered Culkin as "a really sweet kid," Pesci said he tried to limit his real world interactions with the young actor, so as "to maintain the integrity of the adversarial relationship" between their two characters.
Once again written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, Lost in New York swaps a sleepy Chicago suburb for the bustling streets of Manhattan. Armed only with his dad's credit card, Kevin checks into the Plaza Hotel and fools the suspicious adults around him. It's hard to believe the boy's family would leave him behind for a second time, but hey, what are you gonna do? The original Home Alone made almost half a billion dollars against a budget of $18 million. There was no way the studio wasn't going to make a sequel. Sometimes, you gotta suspend that disbelief if you wanna make that box office cheddar.
A total of four sequels were produced between 1997 and 2021, albeit without the involvement of Culkin, Pesci and Stern. The most recent entry in the franchise, Home Sweet Home Alone, brought back Devin Ratray as Kevin's older brother, Buzz, for a supporting role.
"While you never say never, I think that it would be difficult to replicate not only the success but also the overall innocence of the originals," Pesci said when asked if he'd ever consider reprising Harry for another movie in the Home Alone mythos. "It's a different time now; attitudes and priorities have changed in 30 years."
Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are currently streaming on Disney+ along with all of the sequels.
Want to check out more of Chris Columbus' magical filmography? The first two Harry Potter films are now on Peacock.